Keys to a marriage that thrives

Today marks eight years we have been married. And our marriage has been a book of good and rough moments, sometimes scary or funny. Other times heartbreaking and hopeful. But through it all we have found one thing to be consistently true; that when you have God as number one in your life as an individual, your life together becomes an adventure.

We realize having a thriving marriage seems something foreign or far off for many couples. But it doesn’t have to be. God wants everyone to live a fulfilling and thriving marriage. Not one that gets by just “making it”.

We’ve taken time to discuss and share as a couple some key points that have proven to be crucial in the strengthening of our marriage. These are meant for reflection, and it doesn’t mean our marriage is perfect. But we can honestly say that we walk each day feeling blessed. So here goes:

• Your individual relationship with God must be a priority in your life. He is the solid foundation your marriage will grow on.

• Turn to God about your frustrations. Not friends and family who can be biased and “feed” your negative feelings.

• Learn to love unconditionally. We are far from worthy of God’s love, yet he gives it to us. Don’t live with the mentality that your spouse needs to be “deserving” of your love.

• Seek to live out 1 Corinthians 13 in your life. Make a conscious decision to do so. The flesh wants what is easy, but a strong and thriving marriage is a result of intentional effort.

• Plan life together. You are no longer two but one. Meaning your goals and aspirations should always keep the well being of your spouse and marriage in mind.

• There’s no happily ever after without commitment.

• Never compare your marriage to another. Focus on reaching the best that you and your spouse can be, not who you can “be like”.

•You contribute to the state of your marriage. Meaning what you get out of it is determined by what you pour into it and your mentality about it.

We encourage you to take time in prayer and seek God in the areas your marriage needs improvement. Don’t hesitate to seek help from qualified individuals such as your pastors or counselors. They are in your life as a valuable resource from God to help guide, counsel, and teach. When your relationship with God is strengthened, so is your marriage, and as result so is your family.

A prayer for my children

Our oldest is starting kindergarten this year, and as we run around trying to get everything she needs to prepare for this new stage in her life I couldn't help but take a moment to sit back and reflect on what is the most important "preparing" we can do for her. That spiritual "prep". How can she be prepared to deal with what's ahead? Not just this year, but the rest of her life? I've come to realize there is no greater weapon against the currents of this world than prayer. The prayer of mother or father can move and shake mountains. Which is why I wanted to share this very personal prayer I wrote for all my children, and hopefully inspire you to pray daily for yours. Whether they are in diapers or graduating college, they will always need your covering in prayer.

A prayer for my children:

"God I pray that ALL my children will know you. That they not only encounter you but that their lives may be devoted to you. That your love may shine through them and minister to whoever comes their way. That they may spread your love and joy wherever they go.

That they dare to love deeply and unconditionally, just as you do. That when they speak they lift others and exalt your name. That their lives may reach the potential of what you have created them to be. That they may look to YOU to find themselves, their Creator.

That they not be deceived by the "glamour" in this world or what it claims to offer. But that they walk in wisdom guided by your hand. That they may never change or alter who they are in you because of a lie. But that they stand strong in the face of opposition and be victorious.

God I pray you make me the mother they need to care for them and send them the right direction. Let my guidance always be love filled with a word of life inspired by you. That my words build them up, not tear them down.

That my daughters may be God filled powerful women, devoted to you, their husbands, and their families. That my sons will be courageous men filled with your power and anointing, fighting for souls and for their families. That they care for their wives and children as you care for us.

Teach us how to be the parents they need. Inspiring and comforting, not judgmental or harsh, leading them to you in all we say and do.

Teach us Lord, we are imperfect but willing. We look to you for guidance and strength against all troubles we may face. We trust in you, you are our rock. Our solid foundation, never changing. God almighty forever and ever Amen."

Beauty in the worst times

In those moments we feel stretched to the limit, where we think we’re about to snap or even break….that moment contains the most amazing opportunity to encounter God in way we could never imagine.

We are pastors, and contrary to what some believe our life is not perfect. We go through trials. Heavy ones. We cry, we hurt, we bleed. We cry out to God for things others could not imagine, or even understand. Yet I have found in my worst moments, God has never failed to show up. He has shown me he’s there. His presence alone is enough to lift all troubles away, even when the solution has not yet come.

In a recent situation I felt my heart growing heavy, and I let impatience get a hold of me. I asked God questions I honestly don’t ask him often…..Why are we going through this? What did we do? Where did we go wrong? After a few minutes of genuinely pouring out my anger and speaking to God with transparency I walked out of the room feeling vulnerable, hurt, and waiting for a response.

A little while later as I rocked my youngest I heard the words to a song my husband was playing in the other room. “All I need is you…..all I need is you, Lord.” At that moment I felt the Holy Spirit come to comfort me. My heart began to sing and in an instant the heaviness was lifted. God reminded me at that moment that my security lies in Him, not what my eyes see.

I don’t need to have it all resolved to have peace. He IS the peace I need. He is faithful to take care of my situation, but in the meantime he wanted me to know HE was enough for me.

Beloved, HE is enough for you. You don’t have to have it all figured out, but talk to the one who knows and is constant. Faithful, loving and perfect in all He does. Even in the worst times, there is beauty.